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Importing Pens Into The Uk From The Us - Any Experiences


Tom Traubert
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I recently ordered several pens from the US, Japan, and India (I live in the Republic of Ireland, not the UK, but OK, close enough!) My experience was as follows: packages from India and Japan were never intercepted, while packages from the US were ALMOST always intercepted. There seemed to be no correlation between interception and value declared on the package (in fact the most expensive package was not intercepted).

 

So, my conclusion is that An Post does not have the resources to examine all packages, so it focuses on specific countries of origin and even then makes random inspections. I expect the situation with Royal Mail to be broadly similar. I doubt they have the resources to inspect every single package entering the UK.

 

Recently they have been much tougher on this in Ireland. What really bugs me is that in calculating the duty they read the value in dollars (including the postage payments) as Euro in order to come up with the payment figure. I'm praying I never see a must have pen in a currency like Rupia. What's also really annoying is the UPS have slapped on a handling fee, and it aint small, and they demand cash only on receipt of goods.

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I've only had one pen from the USA and I managed to get it through Amazon so all tax was paid upfront and they used their courier service to there was no Royal Mail fee :)

A few ebay sellers offer a similar service too.

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No real logic on whether you get charged or get lucky. I always assume I will (those are the rules ....) but of two pens from Japan and one from US bought this year, luck was with me each time. Astonished, as they seemed to have tightened up and missed nothing in recent years. A friend also buying from Japan was not so lucky ....

I chose my user name years ago - I have no links to BBS pens (other than owning one!)

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Thanks for all the feedback. What a hobby, eh? It started as wanting 'one decent pen' because I do a lot of handwriting as part of my job. Now I'm discussing import taxes to feed the habit. What next? Robbing old ladies on pension day for a quick fix on a Parker Jotter? Cutting ink with lesser products to make it go further?

Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.

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I have been stung a few times, so now I generally try and source from wither the UK or Europe.

 

IF and it is a big IF, I work out the cost, plus the import taxes and fees and it still cheaper, then I will risk it, but otherwise I buy as local as possible

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There is this site that will tell you the cost http://www.dutycalculator.com/new-import-duty-and-tax-calculation/saved_calculations/view_details/186016796/ at the bottom of the page you can use the ebay function and just put in the item number.

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I've just this minute paid a customs charge, so here's my example...

 

Nemosine Singularity $14.99

Knox K35 1.1mm Nib $7.99

Postage $9.00

Total $31.98

 

I've had to pay Royal Mail £11.85 to get it delivered, £8 of which is their handling fee.

 

Bah.

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It would be interesting to know if there were some kind of pattern in these experiences. Out of about a dozen imports over the last couple of years from America only one has been charged VAT. My most expensive (I'm not a big spender) was about £60 and was the most recent, since Christmas, and was not stopped.

Regards

Timothy

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There should be a charge over a certain amount. If the seller declared it as less you wouldn't get charged.

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The thing that really gets to me is the handling fee £8 goes up to £13.50 if your parcel is on a premium service. The shipping service is already paid for by the sender so there is no increased cost to the 'legacy carrier' who delivers it, they just charge you an extra £5.50 because you don't have a choice. This is against international agreements where the legacy carrier can only charge costs, and they have demonstrated that the unit costs for clearing items are £7.99.

 

I asked about it here under FOI before they were privatized, they said it was not in the public interest to know, and that it might harm their commercial interests to disclose they were making a big profit on all of the parcels they were overcharging. A side argument seemed to be that as a publicly owned organization all the money made belonged to the public anyway. What they did say is that it's all handled by the same staff and the only difference is that expedited services (£13.50 charge) might get put through the same process by the same staff at the same place ahead of the £8 ones.

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love. -Carl Sagan

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There should be a charge over a certain amount. If the seller declared it as less you wouldn't get charged.

Which is tax avoidance.

 

I have no problem paying VAT on items bought overseas, but I do resent the £8.00 handling charge paid to Royal Mail. I wish there was a way to pay the VAT directly to HMRC.

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Which is tax avoidance.

 

I have no problem paying VAT on items bought overseas, but I do resent the £8.00 handling charge paid to Royal Mail. I wish there was a way to pay the VAT directly to HMRC.

+1

 

I would add that it's somewhat frustrating with used goods that have been made in europe, sold overseas and are being shipped back. But it's the handling fee that really gets me.

Edited by Bigeddie

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love. -Carl Sagan

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The cost was correctly declared. Anything else would be morally unacceptable, naturally.

 

There should be a charge over a certain amount. If the seller declared it as less you wouldn't get charged.

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The thing that really gets to me is the handling fee £8 goes up to £13.50 if your parcel is on a premium service. The shipping service is already paid for by the sender so there is no increased cost to the 'legacy carrier' who delivers it, they just charge you an extra £5.50 because you don't have a choice. This is against international agreements where the legacy carrier can only charge costs, and they have demonstrated that the unit costs for clearing items are £7.99.

 

I asked about it here under FOI before they were privatized, they said it was not in the public interest to know, and that it might harm their commercial interests to disclose they were making a big profit on all of the parcels they were overcharging. A side argument seemed to be that as a publicly owned organization all the money made belonged to the public anyway. What they did say is that it's all handled by the same staff and the only difference is that expedited services (£13.50 charge) might get put through the same process by the same staff at the same place ahead of the £8 ones.

Good for you for trying to expose this.

I chose my user name years ago - I have no links to BBS pens (other than owning one!)

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Good for you for trying to expose this.

 

Thank you :)

 

I take some comfort in the fact that my repeated requests and appeals will have cost them more than £5.50 a time to process.

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love. -Carl Sagan

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I have had a shock in the last few days.

A nice one, I may add.

I received a small statue from the US without getting charged, despite expecting to be.

It's a little LE model inspired by a Luis Royo painting (a Spanish fantasy artist whose work I really admire) - the statue can be seen here on the manufacturer's web page: http://www.yamatotoysusa.com/page.cfm/736 . Unfortunately they don't seem to have been sold many (if any) in the UK before the edition sold out. Anyway, they now go for a bit more than the initial price, and I got one (glad you can't hear/see my bouncing about in glee).

Maybe the custom's declaration description put them off, being 'Kid's action figure'... Or maybe I was just lucky.

 

Regards,

 

Richard

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Hi

 

One thing to bear in mind when you buy from the USA is that it's actually a Federal Offence not to declare the correct value. Also, in order to have your item ensured for the correct value, the insurance value and the price must coincide.

 

I do get fed up with the £8 handling charge, though mostly when the actual VAT payable is tiny. You can end up paying 4 times as much for the handling charge as you do for the VAT itself. That seems unfair. But for large value items, despite the handling charge seeming excessive, at least you know that it's much smaller than the cost of the VAT + Import Duty.

 

But, except in very borderline values, asking for people from the US to put a lower value on what they send is potentially landing them in greater trouble, that if we were to do it in reverse.

 

The good news is that you can return a pen to the US for repair, and nobody incurs any customs or handling, in either direction. On the customs form you just write "Return to Country of Origin. No Duty Payable".

 

When the pen is returned, the US side writes the same or similar, though they do have to declare if they have charged you a lot for the repair. The pen itself remains duty-free, but the repair costs aren't.

 

I hope that helps.

 

All the best

 

Martin

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One thing to bear in mind when you buy from the USA is that it's actually a Federal Offence not to declare the correct value. Also, in order to have your item ensured for the correct value, the insurance value and the price must coincide

Also if you use a courier company and the prices don't match (we have to check invoices to comply with customs) the courier company could also get into bother with customs. It's a pet hate of mine when I have to enter a package and some doughnut hasn't bothered to put down the item's value.

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+1

 

I would add that it's somewhat frustrating with used goods that have been made in europe, sold overseas and are being shipped back. But it's the handling fee that really gets me.

+1 it is frustrating. Especially as some never qualified to have VAT applied to them because they were made pre VAT date. Others have already had VAT paid on them, have been sent overseas and are being sent back.

 

The handling fee to Royal Mail is half the amount that Parcel Force charge.....

Edited by Chrissy
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Hi

 

But, except in very borderline values, asking for people from the US to put a lower value on what they send is potentially landing them in greater trouble, that if we were to do it in reverse.

 

I was advised by HMRC that the problem and trouble never lies with the sender but with the recipient who asked for a lower value to be shown

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